When you have a young child, other parents often offer advice. This advice comes in many forms and covers many topics, but one phrase is more common than any other. “Enjoy it while it lasts. It goes by faster than you think.” New parents hear this many times.
It can sound rather strange. You’re holding a teething infant, you’ve barely slept, and you’re counting the seconds until you can next attempt a nap. Time seems to go by very slowly indeed.
As an infant turns into a toddler though, and as that toddler becomes a kid, you can’t help but be struck by the passage of time. Your new family member gains abilities at a rapid clip, marking time not day by day, but change by change.
They are constantly picking up new endearing habits – little phrases and behaviors that melt your heart and give you joy. Just as quickly though, they are losing them. Before your eyes, she goes from not being able to say “octopus”, to delightfully squealing at the sight of an “oppatoo!”, to just saying “look dada, it’s an octopus.”
And it’s beautiful, and it’s great. But it also hurts your heart a little bit. No more oppatoo.
It is a strange feeling, that hurt. Why would it be sad when she starts to say “octopus”? Or “I want to do it myself”, or “No dada pick me up”? I mean, it’s certainly for the best. I can hardly be her lifelong transportation, caregiver, and translator as it pertains to 8-limbed mollusks.
But kids inspire love, such deep unconditional love. You love and treasure how they are, down to the smallest quirk. Then, suddenly, right in front of you, they change. While one might grow used to the slow, sad change of growing apart from an adult you love, this feels very different. Overnight, no more “dada up?” No more oppatoo.
In a flash, the behaviors, quirks, and tiny things you’ve grown to love disappear. Just like that, they’re replaced by new phrases, new quirks. New things you’ll also grow to love – before they disappear too.
It’s beautiful, and it’s great. But it also hurts your heart a little bit.
So we take photos, and now videos. And we indulge our hearts, and cry a bit. Sometimes from pride, sometimes from joy, and on occasion from the loss of something tiny.
And when we see a new parent, one with a child much younger than ours, we know it’s silly, but we can’t help ourselves. We feel it’s very important to let them know:
“Enjoy it while it lasts. It goes by faster than you think.”